Native New Zealander Robbie Deans has insisted that he will not have any mixed emotions when the Wallabies take on his homeland New Zealand in Sunday’s World Cup semi-final.
Deans joined the Australia set up when after New Zealand re-appointed Graham Henry as coach despite the All Blacks’ worst-ever finish as beaten quarter-finalists at the 2007 World Cup.
The 52-year-old Deans played five Tests for the All Blacks as a full-back in the early 1990s and went on to guide the Canterbury Crusaders to five Super Rugby titles before taking up the Wallabies’ job in 2008.
But he insisted there was no doubt about his current allegiance.
“It’s often suggested to me that I will have mixed emotions. I’m firmly embedded now (with Wallabies), there’s none of that,” Deans said Friday.
“I’ve worked with this group for a long time, established connections and we’re really looking forward to this contest.”
Deans was surprisingly reappointed for two more years before the World Cup and he was asked which outcome at the tournament would vindicate that decision by the Australian Rugby Union.
“I never feel vindicated, you constantly want more and everyone will have an opinion on that and that’s fair,” he said.
“I seek to do the job to the best of my ability and off the back of that for these blokes (the players) to not only enjoy their experience but actually succeed and have something to show for their time as well.
“I can assure you, regardless of outcomes, whether we were to be successful on Sunday, or if we were to ultimately win the World Cup there will always be those who don’t think I should go around, that’s the way it is.
“From my perspective, I’m committed.”
Deans said he anticipated a very good New Zealand team irrespective of their injury dramas with skipper Richie McCaw and having to field ‘third choice’ fly-half Aaron Cruden after Dan Carter and Colin Slade both suffered tournament-ending groin problems.
“I feel it (injuries) will make them tougher and I firmly believe that because it galvanises them as a team and that is what rugby is all about,” he said.
“All of these blokes are experienced at this level and they’ve got the ultimate incentive of playing in front of ‘a stadium of four and a half million’,” he added in a reference to the population of New Zealand.
“They’ll be very, very good.”